Thirteen seasons, 294 races, 3775 laps with a combined 13,598km of Porsche one-make racing: Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will this weekend celebrate a remarkable milestone – its 100th round – at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.
Having held a successful opening round at Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 in early March, the premium one-make championship will now return to Albert Park with an expanded 16-car line-up for the milestone event.
The series has come a long way since its first appearance Down Under at the 2003 Australian Grand Prix – a non-championship round – before it officially kicked-off at Phillip Island a month later.
Over the past 99 rounds, there have been 28 individual round winners, 35 race winners and 50 drivers who have stood on the Carrera Cup podium. Eight drivers have been crowned the outright Carrera Cup champion, with five-time winner Craig Baird the only multiple champion. Meanwhile the series’ semi-professional class, which was introduced in 2004, has featured seven champions; Dean Grant, Rodney Jane and Max Twigg the only multiple class winners.
The race cars have also been the stars of Carrera Cup Australia. Four generations of the 911 GT3 Cup have been the centrepiece of the championship – the Type 996 from 2003 to 2005, the Type 997 from 2006 to 2008, the second generation Type 997 from 2011 to 2013 and the Type 991 currently used in Carrera Cup, introduced in 2014.
As for the circuits, Carrera Cup has graced 15 different Australian venues, from the iconic permanent circuits of Sandown, Phillip Island and Bathurst, to the two variations of the Gold Coast street track and the now defunct Oran Park and Sydney Olympic Park layouts.
On the eve of the 100th Carrera Cup round, young Kiwi Andre Heimgartner holds the series points lead after victory in the opening Adelaide round. However several other sports cars stars including the experienced David Wall and GT3 Cup Challenge graduate Jaxon Evans, who both joined Heimgartner on the Adelaide podium, will be looking to capture the series lead.
Meanwhile, Albert Park specialist Alex Davison will look for redemption after a horrid Adelaide outing. The 2004 champion, who finished the season opener eighth in the standings, has 11 race wins to his name at the Melbourne circuit, including three wins from four races last season.
Since 2003, 188 individual drivers have competed in Carrera Cup and, this weekend, one the original racers from the inaugural Phillip Island round, Dean Cook, will return 13 years after his last appearance in the championship.
Matt Palmer and Graham Williams will become the 189th and 190th individuals to race in Carrera Cup. Palmer is transitioning from a touring car background to the one-make series, having races in the Super2 Series at the Clipsal 500 three weeks earlier. Williams meanwhile is a former speedway racer with recent Porsche experience in state level and Porsche Club motor racing events.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold four races across the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix weekend, beginning the event with practice, qualifying and the opening race on Thursday, followed by the remaining three races to be held over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
To watch the 100th round of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, tune into ONE on Friday for race two and Channel Ten to watch race three and race four.
Key Carrera Cup Records and Stats
Most round starts: Marc Cini (89), Craig Baird (66), Rodney Jane (54)
Most round wins: Craig Baird (21), Alex Davison (16), Jim Richards (10)
Most round wins (Challenge class): Max Twigg (13), Rodney Jane (10), James Koundouris, Tony Quinn, Shane Smollen (8)
Most consecutive round wins: Alex Davison – 6 (2003/2004)
Most round wins in a season: Jim Richards – 6 (2003)
Most race starts: Marc Cini (257), Craig Baird (192), Rodney Jane (153)
Most race wins: Craig Baird (60), Alex Davison (44), Jim Richards (31)
Most race wins (Challenge class): Max Twigg (46), Shane Smollen (30), Rodney Jane, James Koundouris (29)
Most consecutive race wins: Jim Richards – 8 (2003)
Most race wins in a season: Jim Richards – 20 (2003)
Smallest winning margin: 0.0456s – David Russell/Steve Richards (Gold Coast, 2014)
Biggest winning margin: 13.7760s – Jonny Reid/Alex Davison (Phillip Island, 2012)
Most pole positions: Alex Davison (15), Jim Richards (14), Craig Baird (12)
Most podium positions: Craig Baird (43), Alex Davison (32), Jim Richards (26)
Most podium positions (Challenge class): Rodney Jane, James Koundouris, Shane Smollen (16)